Sports diplomacy

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Book Chapter

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Murray, S. (2016). Sports diplomacy. In Costas Constantinou, Pauline Kerr and Paul Sharp (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Diplomacy (pp. 617- 627). London: SAGE.

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Copyright © 2016. SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.




Compared to some of the major problems in twenty-first-century international relations – terrorism, poverty and climate change, to name but a few – sports diplomacy is a positive phenomenon that should be encouraged. However, in the modern diplomatic environment it is often oversimplified either as a remedy for the world’s problems or derided as a gimmick, an accoutrement that only rich states can afford in these austere times. Such opinion is parochial and unhelpful. This chapter argues that to realise the potential of sport as a diplomatic tool it is necessary to map the relationship between states, sport and international relations. From this survey it introduces and critiques two categories of sports diplomacy: the traditional (version 1.0) and a ‘new’ networked form (version 2.0). As a result, the landscape of sports diplomacy becomes clearer, as do certain pitfalls and limitations of using sport as a tool for overcoming and mediating separation between states. In this chapter, opportunities for cooperation between theorists and practitioners are generated, and research gaps in the sports diplomacy identified. By mapping and re-imagining the relationship between sport, international relations and diplomacy, it then becomes conceivable that sports diplomacy could become a major soft power tool.

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